“Not me,” said Lorry. “I stand by what I do.”
Waring tried to conceal the smile that crept to his lips. “All right, Lorry. But you’ll have to explain to your mother. Better turn your man over to Buck Hardy as soon as you get in town. Where did you pick him up?”
“He was holdin’ up some tourists over by the Notch. He changed his mind and came along with me.”
Waring rode down the west fork, and Lorry and the tramp continued their journey to Stacey.
East and West
Mrs. Adams, ironing in the kitchen, was startled by a peremptory ringing of the bell on the office desk. The Overland had arrived and departed more than an hour ago. She patted her hair, smoothed her apron, and stepped through the dining-room to the office. A rather tired-looking, stylishly gowned woman immediately asked if there were comfortable accommodations for herself and her daughter. Mrs. Adams assured her that there were.
“We had an accident,” continued the woman. “I am Mrs. Weston. This is my daughter.”
“You are driving overland?”
“We were. We have had a terrible time. A man tried to rob us, and we almost wrecked our car.”
“Goodness! Where did it happen?”
“At a place called ‘The Notch,’ I think,” said Alice Weston, taking the pen Mrs. Adams proffered and registering.
“I can give you a front double room,” said Mrs. Adams. “But the single rooms are cooler.”
“Anything will do so long as it is clean,” said Mrs. Weston.
Mrs. Adams’s rosy face grew red. “My rooms are always clean. I attend to them myself.”
“And a room with a bath would be preferable,” said Mrs. Weston.
Her daughter Alice smiled. Mrs. Adams caught the twinkle in the girl’s eyes and smiled in return.
“You can have the room next to the bathroom. This is a desert town, Mrs. Weston. We don’t have many tourists.”
“I suppose it will have to do,” sighed Mrs. Weston. “Of course we may have the exclusive use of the bath?”
“Mother,” said Alice Weston, “you must remember that this isn’t New York. I think we are fortunate to get a place as comfortable and neat as this. We’re really in the desert. We will see the rooms, please.”
Mrs. Weston could find no fault with the rooms. They were neat and clean, even to the window-panes. Alice Weston was delighted. From her window she could see miles of the western desert, and the far, mysterious ranges bulked against the blue of the north; ranges that seemed to whisper of romance, the unexplored, the alluring.
While Mrs. Adams was arranging things, Alice Weston gazed out of the window. Below in the street a cowboy passed jauntily. A stray burro crossed the street and nosed among some weeds. Then a stolid Indian stalked by.
“Why, that is a real Indian!” exclaimed the girl.